Traditional Malay medicine encompasses various kinds of ritual ceremonies intended to communicate with the world of spirits to determine whether the nature of an illness is physical or psychological. In such ceremonies, the aim is to summon and exorcise the spirits causing illness. A ritualist serves as a medium, and a small ensemble often provides the musical component.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Betel pepper (sirih) in traditional medicine

The custom of betel chewing, which is common throughout entire Malay archipelago consist of chewing a betel leaf from Piper betle L, together with lime, some gambier, a piece of areca, or pinang or belt nut.

Betel leaf or Piper betle or sirih has been described form ancient times as an aromatic stimulo-carminitive, astringent and aphrodisiac.

Betel chewing is widely practiced up to 10% of the world population uses it as a traditional medicine, stimulant and aphrodisiac.

The leaf produces an aromatic volatile oil containing a phenol called chavicol which has powerful antiseptic properties. It is also contain oxalic acid, tannin and terpenes.

As an external medicine people use the fresh, crushed leaves as an antiseptic for cuts and wounds and as a poultice for boils. Warm poultice of the leaves and coconut oil is applied on the chest of children in catarrhal and pulmonary affections.

The application of leaves smeared with oil is said to promote secretion of milk when applied on the breast of lactating women.

In pulmonary affections of childhood and old age, leaves soaked in mustard oil and warmed are applied to the chest in order to relieve cough and dyspnoea.

The leaf oil is highly recommended, as counter irritant in swellings, bruises, painful sores, and enlarged glands.
Betel pepper (sirih) in traditional medicine
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